The Sanskrit term Adi Nath means "first" or "original Lord," and is therefore a synonym for Shiva, Mahadeva, or Maheshvara, and beyond these mental concepts, the Supreme Reality as the originator of all things. G.W. Briggs noted that, "although Adinath may have been a yogi preceding Matsyendranath, he is now identified with Shiva, and the name is used to trace the origin of the (Nath) sect to the greatest of yogis, the god Shiva.[1]

The Adinath Sampradaya was a sadhu sub-sect of the greater Nath Tradition. Followers of this tradition were given Sannyas Diksha, thus renouncing householder life, and thereafter lived as naked sadhus. Believing that sadhus should live alone until they had attained the goal, they lived in caves, huts, ruined buildings, or empty houses, and always away from towns and villages. Reference to the Adinath Sampradaya is pointed out by Rajmohan Nath (1964) who lists them among the twelve traditional sub-sects of the Nath Sampradaya.[2] The Adinath Sampradaya is also listed among the sub-divisions of Nath sects in the Census Report, Punjab, 1891, p. 114.[1]

The last sadhu holding authentic Guru status in the Adinath Sampradaya was Shri Gurudev Mahendranath, who attained Mahasamadhi in 1991. Though he created, and gave Diksha into, a western householder variant of the Nath Tradition, he intentionally terminated the Adinath Sampradaya by refusing to bestow Sannyas Diksha, an initiation required for succession.[3][4]

This intent is clear from Shri Gurudev's writings. In The Magick Path of Tantra, he wrote,

"I had decided not to initiate anyone of Indian origin into the Uttara Kaula or the Adinath Sampradayas. As sannyasi or sadhu, there was the danger that after I had entered Mahasamadhi and was unable to deny, that someone might claim that they had been given Sannyas Diksha, and claim authority as guru by succession."[5]

Also, in The Phantastikos:

"I myself have been an initiate and the final Guru of the Adi Naths, one of the many subsects of the Great Natha stream and ancient tradition. With the birth of the International Nath Order, the Indian Adinath sect became defunct, and I myself retired from public life."[6]

Thus, while the flame of the Nath Tradition was passed to the West, the sadhu tradition of the Adi Naths was laid to rest with Shri Gurudev Mahendranath.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Briggs, G. W. (1973). Gorakhnath and the Kanphata Yogis. page 231, Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
  2. Bandyopadhyay, P. K. (1992). Natha Cult and Mahanad. page 73, Delhi, India: B.R. Publishing Corporation.
  3. Mahendranath, Shri Gurudev. From a letter to Kapilnath of 16 August 1985 in The Open Door: Newsletter of the International Nath Order. Retrieved Feb. 6 , 2007
  4. Mahendranath, Shri Gurudev. From the Dark into Light in The Open Door: Newletter of the International Nath Order. Retrieved Feb. 6 , 2007
  5. Mahendranath, Shri Gurudev. The Magick Path of Tantra. Retrieved Oct. 20, 2004.
  6. Mahendranath, Shri Gurudev. The Phantastikos. Retrieved Oct. 20, 2004.

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